The Conjuring spooks away the minions for the top slot

Low-budget horror flick fares beyond expectation as it knocks Despicable Me 2 down to second.

Reuters July 22, 2013
Low-budget horror flick fares beyond expectation as it knocks Despicable Me 2 down to second. PHOTO: FILE

LOS ANGELES: The Conjuring, a story about two paranormal investigators who work to help a family terrorised by the demonic possession of their farmhouse, outperformed two pricey competitors and the global hit Despicable Me 2 to win the top slot at both the US and Canadian box-office.

The low-budgeted horror flick, directed by James Wan and produced by Warner Bros and New Line Cinema, soared past forecasts with $41.5 million in domestic ticket sales in its first three days — the highest take among four new films, according to studio estimates.

The strong performance from The Conjuring knocked two-time champion Despicable Me 2 to second place with $25.1 million.

Both movies topped this week’s results surpassing big-budget entries Turbo and R.I.P.D., which both fell short of already low expectations from some box office analysts.

The Dreamworks Animation and 20th Century Fox film Turbo, the story of a racing snail, marked the lowest domestic opening amongst DWA productions and landed in the number three slot with $21.5 million from Friday through Sunday. Whereas the Universal Pictures’ sci-fi comedy R.I.P.D. limped to a seventh finish with $12.8 million.

The Conjuring produced for just under $20 million, stars Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as a couple investigating paranormal activities. The movie followed the successful path of other inexpensive horror films like Mama and The Purge that grabbed big sales in their opening weekends this year.

“It so over performed anybody’s wildest expectations,” said Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros’ executive vice president for domestic distribution. “We originally thought if we open in the mid-20s, that’s a strong result and we’d be very happy with that.”

Family audiences, though, kept coming for the animated Despicable Me 2, one of the summer’s biggest hits, which brought its global total through Sunday to $585 million, said a distributor representing Universal Pictures. The film features the voice of Steve Carell as the Felonious Gru, leader of the singing-and-dancing yellow minions.

Continued interest in the animated minions stalled the debut of Turbo, which features the voice of Ryan Reynolds. With a head start on the weekend, Turbo added $9.7 million on Wednesday and Thursday at North American (US and Canadian) theatres, plus $22.6 million from international openings, which only covered about one-quarter of all international markets. DreamWorks spent roughly $135 million to make the film.

“We’re in a very competitive marketplace but we have a ton of summer play time left, so we’ll see,” said Chris Aronson, president of domestic distribution for 20th Century Fox. Aronson added that Turbo had “very strong openings” internationally, and an A-plus Cinema score rating from moviegoers under age 25, which he said “bodes very well for its playability”.

Turbo wasn’t the weekend’s only disappointment as the Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges starrer R.I.P.D. opened to a dismal $12.8 million domestically. It added $6.8 million in international markets for a global total of $19.6 million through Sunday. “In this crowded marketplace, R.I.P.D. did not find the size audience it needed and Universal is disappointed with the weekend result,” said Nikki Rocco, president for domestic distribution at Universal Pictures.

Rounding up the box-office, the Adam Sandler comedy Grown Ups 2 took the fourth slot, pulling in $20 million during its second weekend.

Newcomer Red 2, an action comedy starring Bruce Willis as a retired CIA agent, landed in fifth place with $18.5 million and the sci-fi monster flick Pacific Rim settled for a sixth place.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2013.

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